Geert Goiris - Winner of 2009
Geert Goiris collects images of remote places, abandoned buildings or inexplicable situations. The border experiences that he records in his photographs are clear and composed without digital manipulation. In his new installation Whiteout, both subject matter and the form of presentation are devoted to light and therefore to the essence of photography. Geert Goiris (*1971 in Bornem, lives and works in Antwerp) photographed the images for Whiteout during two expeditions to Antarctica in December/January 2007/08 and 2008/09. Whiteout is a polar weather condition in which too many crystals in the air cause a complete loss of orientation. Goiris arranges his black-and-white photographs of exceptional lighting conditions to generate a sense of whiteout, which he then counteracts by combining them with colour photographs of familiar phenomena like containers, ships and residents of the polar station.
The Whiteout series is an exemplary unification of several aspects of Goiris’ art. His images often make the observer think of documentary photography or photojournalism. However, they soon reveal an irritating ambiguity. The analogue photographs are often based on simple and conventional compositions, without reverting to any form of seductive or manipulative artistry. Dreary and forsaken landscapes at the very edges of civilization in which people, flora and fauna live under most extreme conditions are among his preferred subjects. Goiris describes the result of his extensive, globally encompassing “field research" as "traumatic realism": He sees the photograph as a medium to reveal the extraordinary and the eeriness of a melancholy living environment.